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An Ode to Cheap Books in a Former Borders

An Ode to Cheap Books in a Former Borders – NYTimes.com.

Ode is a weird place.

It’s a bookstore that’s been set up in the shell of an old Borders location, and it feels like walking through an abandoned house. Where Borders sold new and shiny books, Ode is filled with used and outdated volumes. The fixtures and signage are recycled from Borders, the most obvious example being the name itself – Ode, created from letters in the Borders sign.

Signs around the store tell you about events happening at *O*DE**. Author quotes still adorn the walls, signs direct you to the (nonfunctional) cafe, and the cheery Papercraft section still invites you to shop at the front of the store.

About halfway through the store, a makeshift barricade has been formed out of bookshelves and CD racks. Behind that appears to be a work area, where people were working on transforming the store further. It really emphasized the size and scale of these stores (and perhaps their wastefulness), when you can block off half of a Borders and still feel like you have an overwhelming amount of books.

No music is being piped through the store. No colorful signs promote the latest bestsellers. The air is still, somber, and quiet. It feels like we’re not supposed to be here; like we went under some police tape and wandered into a construction area. Books are vaguely organized, but it’s hard to tell exactly what the organization scheme is; it gives you a sense that you might be able to find some hidden gem, if you look hard enough.

So, good luck, Ode. You seem doomed to fail, but at the same time, you must have been incredibly cheap to create, so the risk is worth it. It’ll be interesting to see how you develop; and whether you’ll find your own identity outside of the shadow of Borders.

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  1. February 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    As I told Barry, there were some new books up towards the register. It seems that Ode somehow acquired part of Borders original stock and is now selling it at deeply discounted rates, while they’ve taken in some old/used books to help flesh out the store. The back that Barry described gave me an office sort of feel.
    It was such a huge space, but it did feel very awkward. I agree with Barry that it felt like it shouldn’t be there.
    I saw great potential though. With some proper organization and better marketing/advertising, Ode could become a great book store akin to Powell’s or Bookman’s. I became slightly energized in wanting to help this place achieve some amazing possibilities. But it also looks like once the owners have sold off the Borders overstock, they might just close up. Take the profits and run so to speak.

  2. February 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    The article I linked to said that the stock was ‘Remaindered’ but doesn’t indicate where the new owner got it. It doesn’t feel like it’s from Borders; it doesn’t seem like they’d be keeping crates of ‘Windows 95 for Teachers’ around, but I don’t know.

    It is a good space, though, and could turn into a really nice community bookstore. If I wanted to spend a few more hours in there, I probably could have found something really interesting to read.

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